03 Jun

Four Things

I have new next door neighbours!

Back in the winter when the house right next to ours went up for sale my sister and brother-in-law bought it! They finally moved in this week and I’m totally elated to have my family so close by.

As soon as we install our cup phones and roof-to-roof zipline we’ll be all set.

Sean & Vic

New Neighbours!

I wrapped up the 30×30 Nature Challenge last week.

I breezed through the first two weeks but finding nature during week 3 was a bit of a struggle since I visited the most concrete of jungles, New York City. And week 4 wasn’t much better with day after day of rain showers that kept me indoors.
Overall, I’d say I was 80% successful in getting at least 30 minutes of nature per day. On most of those days I got an hour and on a few choice weekend days I spent several hours outside.

I’m going to try to keep the challenge rolling while the weather is neither unbearably hot nor cold.

The Cloisters
Finding some greenspace in Manhattan

I really like Muppets

I’m partial to the Sesame Street Muppets, but anything Jim Henson tickles my fancy. I’ve not-so-secretly always wanted to be a puppeteer.

FAO Schwartz in New York was like my dream come true. Not only did they have tonnes of Fraggle toys for the 30th anniversary of Fraggle Rock, but they also have a build-your-own Muppet Workshop. I was really tempted to make a Muppet there, but the puppets seemed kind of low-quality so I passed.

Muppet Workshop

Muppet Workshop 2

Am I a womaaaaaan or am I a Muppet?

I’m versatile

I got nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by Jennifer at Wine to Weightlifting, which is just a fun way of getting bloggers to connect. As a result I need to share 7 random things about myself, so here it goes:

There was that time that I pissed in a watering can.

I hate ‘stuff’. I get stressed out if I ever find myself in a place with an abundance of things that are unused, unnecessary, or excessive.

My least favourite body part to work out is biceps. SO boring.

I don’t like the smell of flowers but I love the smell of wood.

I started doing yoga when I was 10 with a Yoga Mind & Body video that I bought from Wal-mart. It coincided with my incense-burning, poetry-writing “hippie phase”.

I’m really frugal. I track everything we spend money on and always make sure that our budget is on track.

My dream vacation was Greece for as long as I can remember. Last summer Matt and I went there and I still haven’t determined what my new dream vacation will be. In the running are Bali, Thailand, and Newfoundland to name a few.

Chania-Crete-34_thumb.jpg

Chania, Crete

22 May

30×30 Nature Challenge Week 3

Spending 30 minutes a day in nature for the 30×30 nature challenge was a bit difficult this weekend seeing as I spent 3 days in the most concrete of jungles – New York City.

I’ve never been to New York before and it’s not a place that I would place anywhere near the top of my must-see list (I prefer quieter spots to big cities when it comes to vacations) but the point of the trip was for Matt and I to visit my cousins who live there.

On Friday we explored Harlem and Midtown, naturally neither area is very green. We came across pockets of greenspace here and there in Morningside and the Columbia University campus but we never stopped in any of them long enough to relax. We were go-go-go on Friday with lots of sights to see an little time.

MorningsideEarl Hall Gate at Columbia University

Saturday we did a little better. We made the trek to the Northern tip of Manhattan to The Cloisters museum which is surrounded by a beautiful park and heather gardens. Not to mention all the greenspace in the museum itself.

I really liked The Cloisters. It was quiet (by New York standards), and had some really cool medieval architecture assembled from parts of buildings acquired from Europe. I especially loved how they recreated cloistered gardens and filled them with typical medieval plants.

Bonus tip: Admission to The Cloisters (and The Met, it’s affiliate) is $25, but that’s just recommended and technically admission is by donation. Being cheap we gave $10 per person which was much more reasonable.

Heather Gardens

Fort Tryon Park

The CloistersThe Cloisters

Sunday we got zero nature time since it rained all. day. long. It put a damper on our day in general but especially on any potential time spent outdoors enjoying whatever piece of nature we would have managed to find among the concrete.

Frankly we spent most of our weekend in New York eating delicious things: eating in Harlem. eating in Morningside, eating in Midtown, eating in Brooklyn, eating in the Lower East Side.

I hope to write a bit about all the deliciousness that was consumed over a 72 hour period.

08 May

30×30 Nature Challenge – Week 1

This challenge definitely hasn’t been much of a challenge at all. We’ve been blessed with really great weather– warm, sunny, generally gorgeous– and with the endless rains we saw in April it’s been nice to finally enjoy the spring weather.

Tulips

During the week I’ve been taking my lunch outside to eat at the benches we have under the trees at work. There’s my 30 minutes right there! I usually do this when the weather is nice anyway, so it hasn’t changed my usual pattern.

Lunchtime Eating SpotLunchtime eating spot

What has changed is that I’ve been trying to bring the dog to the park more often. I usually just walk her around the block, but this week, in an effort to get a little more nature, I took Bagigis to the parks nearby and spent a bit more time outside with her.

Bagigis!Bagigis has been benefitting from the 30×30 too!
(P.S. those are Matt’s hairy legs, not mine)

Also I did a few fun activities too. Matt and I went to Amherstburg for some ice cream & froyo took a walk down by the Detroit River.

Fro Yo at the WaterfrontNavy Yard Park

And one day this weekend I took my book onto the front porch to read; a tall Greek Frappe and a book about a spruce tree read while sitting by a spruce tree.

Reading

It doesn’t get much better than this.

. . . okay, maybe it does. . .

Zipline!Ziplining at the playground

So far, this is the coolest challenge ever.

30 Apr

30×30 Nature Challenge

I signed up for the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge.

For my American readers, David Suzuki is an environmental superstar here in Canada and his foundation does some pretty extensive research and policy work to further environmental conservation.

The 30×30 challenge commits the participants to:

Spend 30 minutes per day in nature for 30 consecutive days

The challenge starts tomorrow and I’m signed up and ready to go.

30x30Nature Challenge

The event’s website has a pretty sweet infographic with a bunch of information about the detriments of nature deficit and the benefits of access to nature.

Here’s just a clip of the info:

Health Benefits of Nature

I’m sure that everyone can attest to feeling better after spending time outdoors in a natural setting like a park or even your backyard.

Lucky for me I don’t live in a densely urban environment and I have some pretty easy access to nature. I’m really looking forward to taking part!

I’ll be posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook about the ways I spend my 30 minutes a day so make sure to follow me!

Will you be doing the 30×30 nature challenge?

28 Apr

Four Things

Hemp, hemp, and more hemp

Last weekend for 4/20 The Body Shop had a cheeky sale on hemp products: 4 for $20. I discovered the Hemp Hand Protector when I went to Norway and think it is the most amazing thing ever and worth $20 on its own (especially during the winter, when my hands are chapped like crazy and I feel like I endlessly field questions about what the hell happened to my knuckles).

So I totally stoked up on 3 hand protectors and a body butter (just to switch things up a bit). I bought the stuff online and it just came in this week. Now, I should be good for at least 3 years.

Painted Nails

And speaking of hands, my girlfriends came over on Friday and we painted our nails. For the record I never paint my nails because they last all of half a day before they’re chipped and looking like crap. My friend Andrea insisted that this is because I don’t have ‘the good topcoat’.

She was right, but only to a degree. These lasted me about 36 hours (instead of the typical 12) before the paint started to chip pretty badly.

Baseball Massacre

Part of the nail chipping is likely due to playing catch and hitting some baseballs in the park with Matt and my BiL Sean last night. I love playing catch even though I am pretty terrible at both throwing and catching.

I have terrible hand-eye coordination so I’m lucky if I can hit a single baseball. It’s always a swing and a miss for me, except last night. Matt was pitching them nicely to me so I was hitting one ball after another (most of them aimed directly at his head, but I have no control over such things).

I was hitting ‘em so hard that I destroyed the baseball! (we’ll just disregard the fact that the baseball is about 20 years old and was already starting to fall apart).

Greek Frappe

Yesterday was finally Greek Frappe weather. Remember this awesome coffee drink that I exported back to me from my trip to Greece last summer? The one that tastes delicious but is ridiculously easy to make? Oh, I’ve missed it. Hello springtime!

07 Apr

Four Things

Today is my sister’s 30th birthday!

We celebrated by going out for dim sum yesterday and wood oven pizza today. . . followed up by these amazing ‘goddess kisses’ (fried dough balls tossed in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with chocolate)

Aside from being a milestone, her Dirty Thirty birthday is an especially exciting one since she and my brother-in-law don’t have to worry about driving back home to Illinois today. They’ve moved back to Windsor, for good! And they bought the house right next door to ours! Doesn’t get much better than that.

Vicki's BirthdayHappy Birthday Vicki!

Spring is in the air!

The weather has finally started to take a turn for the better and the signs of spring are starting: waking up to the birds chirping, seeing the tulips and daffodils sprout, and being able to go out without a jacket without developing hypothermia.

My favourite sign of spring started to appear a while ago though: Cadbury Mini Eggs!

Mini EggsMini Eggs mean Easter, spring, and deliciousness

I started and finished reading Sarah’s Key this week.

The book club that I was in last year was on hiatus and is finally being revived and Sarah’s Key was April’s selection. I enjoyed this book about a woman’s journey to investigate a young girl’s experience during The Holocaust but would have liked more Holocaust story and less of the modern day. It was no Night, but it was good.

In any case, it just feels good to be able to finish a book in less than a month’s time, after having read Storm of Swords and Feast for Crows.

DSCF2271Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

I bought another 10 class pass to the Moksha Yoga studio.

In yesterday’s class I almost got myself into full expression of peacock pose (mayurasana). I got closer than ever. I was really excited. Now I have yet another pose that I’m keen on mastering.

Peacock PoseMayurasana – What a cute print! (source)

27 Mar

Four Things

A Feast for Crows is lacklustre and and boring in comparison to A Storm of Swords which I read last month. None of my favourite storylines are in this book. I’m about 3/4 through it and not much has happened at all.

On the bright side, Game of Thrones Season 3 starts in T minus 5 days.

Feast For Crows

Matt brought home pheasant today! He bought two from someone at work who hunted them. I’m pretty excited to try it because I’ve never had pheasant before and I love trying new foods.

Luckily his friend de-feathered and packaged it nicely for us. I don’t know what I would have done had Matt brought home a carcass feathers and all.

Pheasant

The package says Matt Skin which is kinda gross if you think about it. Don’t worry, it’s poultry.

It’s like Willy Wonka, but real! In the most epic marketing campaign I’ve ever heard of, Tate & Lyle Sugar created an eight-room Tasting House in London where nearly everything was some form of edible dessert like a meringue rug, fudge windowsills, and pillows made of spongecake. It’s my dream come true!

See more pictures here and here and here.

SWEET DREAMS… WORLD’S FIRST CAKE HOTEL OPENS TO THE PUBLIC

The pillows and the book are both edible!

I notice a huge difference between practicing yoga at home and going to the hot yoga studio. It’s partly because I slack off a little more when I practice alone, partly because the heat makes me more limber and lets me push myself farther, and partly because the interaction with the instructors is so helpful.

It might be time to buy another set of class passes.

Wheel

21 Mar

Winter Bucket List Reassessment

It’s officially SPRING! Though this literally freezing weather is still a bit too wintery to declare spring truly sprung in Windsor. It’s been snowing for the last few days and the weather doesn’t look like its getting warmer any time soon.

I don’t mind too much though. I don’t think I’m ready for warm weather just yet. I’m just happy that the days are so much longer.

And now it’s time to take a look back at the Winter Bucket List I set out for myself way back in December.

Bake a Panettone (Check!)

Panettone

My favourite Italian yeast cake!

I considered doing a fun variation but instead I stick with a traditional recipe filled with raisins and candied citrus peel that I soaked in lots and lots of coconut rum.

I made the panettone for Tina’s birthday back in February.

Go Ice Skating (Not really)

"Skating for Tina's Birthday"

Did I go skating? Well, not technically. The night we planned on going out it had snowed so much that the rink was full of snow and there was a cleaning crew clearing it so we went out drinking instead (makes total sense, eh?).

We headed out back to the ice much, much later but everyone was too cold to put their skates on, save for one brave soul.

Make a Soufflé (Check!)

Souffle

Once I purchased a soufflé dish I was ready and willing to make a kick-ass soufflé. I went with a recipe for Herb and Goat Cheese Soufflé from the cookbook Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp which turned out SO delicious and fluffy and I couldn’t wait to make another.

. . . but then I dropped my brand new soufflé dish and it shattered into a million pieces. So that was the end of soufflé making for Sam.

But, on the bright side, Aida Mollenkamp commented on my blog post so it was pretty much worth it. Wicked awesome.

Enjoy a Warm, Crackling Fire

Never happened. Wah wah waaaaaaah.

Build a Snowman (check!)

Snowman!!

Totally did! And I did it in my front yard where the whole neighbourhood wondered what the fuck I was doing on my hands and knees, rolling balls of snow.

In the process I learned that making snowmen is a fun way to clear the driveway.

Watch The Muppet’s Christmas Carol (check!)

Muppets Christmas Carol! Favourite Movie

Damn right I did! It’s my favourite Christmas Movie.

Matt and I watched it for our December Date Night when our downloaded version of The Dark Knight Rises turned out to be a dud. Yes, we really did go from The Dark Knight to The Muppets.

 

So all in all I managed to get 4.5/5 bucket list wishes crossed off this winter. Next year I’m gonna cross them off all in one shot. I’ll go skating then warm up by a crackling fire whilst watching Muppets Christmas Carol and eating souffle and panettone for dessert. Why didn’t I think of that this year?